The main idea in brief: From virtual communication to intercultural literacy development
Governments, international and non-profit associations such as the One Laptop per Child make intense political efforts to amplify the digital network distribution in schools around the globe. In Brazil the National Fund for the Development of Education procured and distributed 150.000 PCs to 300 rural and urban schools in all regions of the country in 2010 (Neri, 2012). In Greece, the Ministry of Education decided in November 2012 to distribute 26.400 lab-tops with basic software and internet access to 1760 primary and secondary schools. Similar policies have been implemented in countries such as Netherlands for years now.
At the same time, learning how to coexist with people from many different backgrounds is more important than ever before. The global and interconnected world, we are living in, calls for a high emphasis on competencies and skills in areas such as global citizenship, cross-cultural competence, intercultural effectiveness and sensitivity. Eleven years ago, the Maastricht Congress on Global Education discussed and analyzed issues around Global Education, and indeed considerable developments in the field have taken place. Yet a lot of work remains to be done on national levels as well as worldwide (cf. Hogeling, 2012). Further conferences have taken place recently in Europe and worldwide.
Our project aims at using the digital technologies that are available in local schools and communities around the world as to (a) hyper-connect them and (b) enable children and young people from the whole world to virtually communicate for longer periods of time with each other.
Virtual person-to-person communication among children from various countries refers to communication over months or years among children who get to “know” each other through all possible internet-based technologies such as: video hosting platforms, social networking sites, internet forums, online translation software, video-conferencing technologies, blogs and micro-blogs as well as virtual social worlds without any possibility for meeting offline.
With certain guidance by teachers and community-workers virtual person-to-person communication can lead to intercultural literacy i.e. competencies, understandings, attitudes, communication proficiencies, and identities necessary for effective cross-cultural engagement. Intercultural literacy presumes a non-hegemonic stance and entails:
- Knowledge about other places and cultures from a local’s standpoint,
- Tolerance towards different lifestyles and views,
- Concern for the other’s everyday life difficulties as well as for problems that might be common and shared.
A few concrete steps
A. Children & young persons use their mobile phones and/or cameras to make digital pictures and videos about their neighbourhoods, their school or some crucial issue they might be confronted with. Teachers & researchers can help the students to learn how to make pictures & films by following this guide: UsingFilmGuideShortVersion
The producers add titles, explanations and commentaries on these platforms. This work can be developed further by producing digital stories cf. the Digital story telling guide.
C. Children and young people from the various hyperconnected schools watch the pictures made by the other groups and discuss these in the classroom. They respond in written as well as by posting other pictures or videos as a response. For the written communication GoogleTranslate can be used. At this stage reflection takes place on all produced and exchanged materials. Children and young people from various geographic areas can think of producing a film jointly online as a next step. Meta-reflection is also possible here, cf. http://mkontopodis.wordpress.com/metareflection/
Note: It is essential at this stage that the teachers and the involved researchers explain to children and young people that intercultural communication does not take place on neutral grounds but within a global history of conquests, slave trades, migration, exploitation of natural resources and genocides (Coulby, 2011). Within this frame, global citizenship education offers the ground for educational programs that encourage global thinking, peace orientation and respect for human rights and diversity (Zajda, 2010).
D. Social networking sides that are safe and eligible for children and young people can be used as well as to enable person-to-person virtual communication for longer periods of time (in parallel to the above-mentioned group activities). Depending on the age of the reference group we suggest: giantHello; kazaana or yoursphere.
For more ideas & theoretical input visit: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com